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April 3, 2014

The family room

Brazilian interior designer Rafaela Simoes and her husband bought their house in North Miami Beach seven years ago, largely because the kitchen, dining and living rooms comprised one big, open space. “I’m married with two kids and a dog, so I like to be able to see what’s going on,” joked Simoes, who runs 2id Interior Design with her partner, Laila Colvin. What she didn’t love was the fact that the living area was small, dark and decidedly gloomy.

So she went on a mission for more light: Simoes started by painting the walls white and adding plantation shutters; out went dark-wood laminate flooring, in came pale, unpolished travertine, set in 32-by-32-inch pavers to minimize seam lines and make the space seem open despite its limited square footage. Next came the bigger challenge: marrying Simoes’ contemporary style with her husband’s more traditional tastes. “He brought lots of family antiques to our marriage, whereas I’d collected pieces from iconic 20th-century designers,” she said. The process of tying everything together into a modern-classic combo turned out to be fun. The unifying trick was to pepper the room with touches of orange and yellow, a palette inspired by a fabric sample that Simoes picked up in the Design District. “On the same day, I happened to visit one of my favorite artists, Margot Jannes, at her atelier,” she said. “Margot saw the fabric swatch and said, ‘Why don’t you use this in your house for pillows and I’ll make you a painting in the same color scheme?’ So that’s what we did.”

With the colors settled, the designer’s sleek, white leather Barcelona chair and Modani sofa could happily coexist with her husband’s vintage wooden armchairs. To add extra warmth, Simoes swathed the wall behind the TV console in neutral grass cloth; a custom-made white panel hides unsightly wires. The striped rug came from one of her favorite sources, Miami’s One of a Kind boutique. “I often use light rugs for clients, but for me, with kids and a dog in the house, I knew that would be trouble,” she said. “This one introduces some texture and balance but hides a lot.”

A hanging light fixture would have overwhelmed the small space. Instead, a dramatic Arco floor lamp from Design Within Reach brings light to the center of the room. It’s all part of the room’s casual, unpretentious sophistication. “I’ve worked on big hotels and grander projects, but I’m a shorts-and-flip-flops girl at heart,” Simoes confessed. “I love that this room feels elegant yet homey. I’m from Rio de Janeiro, so the whole relaxed, beachy style is in my blood.”

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